ROANOKE, Va. – A plan to build a town center across Interstate 581 from Roanoke’s Valley View Mall is off the shelf for now.
City officials confirmed the application for a mixed-use development at Evans Spring has been withdrawn. The 114-page application was filed last month; it claimed the 93-acre development would have included a “wholesale warehouse club,” a “golf-related entertainment facility,” a grocery store, and up to 300 apartments.
The application’s withdrawal happened after a Roanoke Planning Commission work session focused on the proposal, in which nearly all of its members shared concerns about the plan and its viability.
“There’s definitely a concern that we already have one big shopping center on the other side of 581 that’s struggling a little bit," said Roanoke Planning Administrator Ian Shaw. "Do we really need another one that is essentially the same thing, versus having more of a town center that’s part of the neighborhood and different than what we have right now.”
Commission member Lori Katz told 10 News she also had concerns about how well the development fit in with the existing neighborhood. Katz said traffic would have been a major issue; she said Sherman Road, which currently handles 300 cars a day, would have carried an estimated 3,000 cars per day without any upgrades if the plan was approved.
The plan also caused trepidation for Anne Mitchell, who lives down the street from the proposed development site.
“As time goes on, everything is going to change, but we want something that is not going to impact our neighborhood,” Mitchell said. “Will our neighborhood remain safe once that traffic increases? If it goes through the way they had it on the table, I think our way of life would change.”
Katz said she encourages the developers to submit a revised version of their proposal which would work better with Evans Spring’s current infrastructure.
Council members passed guidelines for Evans Spring’s development in 2013, which requires potential developers to extend the Lick Run Greenway and integrate the development into the existing neighborhood.
“It’s making sure whatever comes in is truly going to benefit the city and the adjoining neighborhood for the long run, and not just the immediate need," Shaw said. "With retail and how much it’s changing, we could have a store come in that may not be here in five to ten years, versus having something that’s really going to be a long-term part of the community.”